Leisure boat sailing on Morecambe Bay
Bruce Eastwood moved to Arnside after enjoying visits from Halifax in the 1960s. He tells many a tale of his exploits sailing on the Bay with friends from Arnside Sailing Club. Members of the club have provided knowledge and, on occasion rescue, as many were members of the local Coastguard Station which is still perched on the banks of the River Kent close by the club boat park.
Exploring the Bay
After honing his sailing skills on the river, Bruce’s main joy was exploring out into the Bay, to Holme and Piel Island. His curiosity taking him out to Grange-over-Sands and beyond, returning along the ever changing channels. One day, Bruce and his friend were engulphed in mist and only made it back home following the distant beacon of the top half of Blackpool Tower. The channels have always made their unpredictable wonderings about the Bay. One time a friend had to sail out of the channel as it dived under the sands and under Holme Island, for otherwise the boat and its sailors would surely have been sucked down and lost.
Two tide trips
Each tide allows just 2 hours of sailing time, one before and one after high tide. On occasion a group of friends would take a cruise, a two tide trip to Morecambe or even to Fleetwood. Out into the Bay beyond Heysham is the Lune Deep, where the sandy bottom gives way to a blue depth. Far out there, once a seal was seen chasing fish. The seal would come up for a lungful of air then, diving down, the fish shot up out of the water in front of the boat.
Bruce tells of the time he ran out of water and was stuck on Holme Island, and getting back late, his friend’s worried wife would play hell. Sailing out all the way to Morecambe on a fine day could cause serious concern and Bruce was reported dead. On that occasion not Bruce, but sadly, a local woman was lost to the tide.
As a boy, Bruce would spend his holidays at Heysham, the Railway Company providing “luggage in advance”, in a time when holidays were by train not by car. Knickerbocker Glories were a holiday treat, at just half a crown, enjoyed at Brucciani’s ice cream shop in Morecambe.
Times have changed at Arnside Sailing Club, with younger members and more boat racing. Explorers like Bruce and his friends are less to be seen. The estuary has also changed, the sight of salmon nets and whirlpools by the viaduct just a memory. Still, the changing sand, wind and tides on the Bay are still a challenge, to be studied, talked about, worried about and enjoyed.